Police in Flagstaff are searching for an Arrowhead Elementary School kindergarten teacher who has not been seen since Friday, and the one man who might know what happened to her is sitting in a jail cell in Phoenix.
The last time anybody saw Cathryn Gorospe, 44, she was in Flagstaff.
According to the Flagstaff Police Department, Gorospe bailed a man named Charlie Malzahn out of the Coconino County Jail shortly after 10 p.m. Friday. Police have not said how the two are acquainted, but they are concerned.
“She has not been seen since and we fear harm has come to her,” reads an FPD news release Tuesday afternoon.
Gorospe’s roommate reported her missing late Sunday afternoon. She told police that Gorospe had planned to post bond for Malzahn, get dinner and then drive back to Phoenix with him.
“She felt something was wrong because it was unlike Gorospe to do this and not make arrangements for someone to care for her dog,” according to FPD.
Investigators the Williams Police Department booked Malzahn, 27, into jail on Aug. 20 on suspicion of vehicle theft and various weapons charges.
Right now, detectives believe the pair left Flagstaff via Interstate 40 heading west.
“Ultimately it is unknown how long Malzahn and Gorospe were together,” according to FPD. “We are hoping someone may recognize their photographs or the vehicle.”
At this point, investigators believe the Malzahn took Gorospe’s vehicle, a white 2010 Toyota Rav 4 with Green Bay Packer stickers on it, but they are not sure exactly where or how it happened.
Police believe Malzahn contacted some acquaintances in Clifton Saturday morning “to try and get some drugs and a gun ….”
That afternoon, Tucson police made contact with Malzahn at the shopping mall in regard to some purchases he made with a woman’s credit card.
“Malzahn was in possession of Gorospe’s credit/debit cards, which he told the officer he had permission to have,” according to FPD. Officers seized those items and the cards.
The person with Malzahn at the time said they were in a Rav 4, but said it was missing the end pieces of the back bumper and had a damaged front quarter panel.
“It was also indicated that there was blood on the center console, interior passenger door, sunroof / visor area, and the interior driver door panel, FPD said. The acquaintance also noticed a cut to Malzahn’s right thumb. With this information provided to investigators, the vehicle status was updated in the national database as a possible homicide vehicle.”
Phoenix police spotted that vehicle at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday.
“Once the vehicle was spotted, Malzahn tried to flee from them, and a pursuit ensued,” FPD said. “Malzahn crashed the vehicle and was taken into custody. Malzahn has not provided investigators any information about the whereabouts of Gorospe.”
Sgt. John Howard of the Phoenix Police Department said Malzahn assaulted two officers.
“As officers were printing Charlie Malzahn … [he] committed aggravated assault on two police officer by putting his cuffs around one officer’s head and neck and by fighting with both officers causing injuries to both officers …,” according to court paperwork.
One of the officers suffered a 9-inch cut to the back of his head, court documents say.
“Charlie Malzahn also committed resisting arrest by fighting with officers and attempting to bite the officers while they were attempting to gain control …,” reads the probable cause for arrest statement.
Malzahn was booked on one count each of escape in the first degree, unlawful flight from law enforcement and resisting arrest.
A secured appearance bond was set for $2,700.
According to Department of Corrections records, Malzahn has done prison time for theft, aggravated assault and resisting arrest.
While Flagstaff police do not know what happened to Gorospe or where she might be, Malzahn’s court paperwork states that “Flagstaff police had reason to believe that Charlie Malzahn had committed a homicide.” There is no elaboration or mention of Gorospe by name. The narrative simply refers to “the listed vehicle,” which was Gorospe’s Rav 4. In fact, the Flagstaff Police Department has not called Malzahn a suspect in their investigation into Gorospe’s disappearance, referring to him instead as an investigative lead.
Police are looking for anybody who might have seen Gorospe and Malzahn together or recognizes her vehicle.
“Anyone with information that may be valuable is encouraged to contact the Flagstaff Police Department at 928-774-1414.”
Gorospe’s father has been posting photos and limited information on Facebook, pleading for people to keep their eyes open and share his daughter’s story. Gorospe’s brother, Cory, has posted to Facebook, as well.
“The police department is doing all they can and the more eyes out there looking for my sister the better chance of finding her,” Cory posted Monday. “Social media is a powerful tool and I think if we get the word out to as many people as possible then Cathryn will be home soon!”
Gorospe’s parents and brother, all of whom are from out of state, came to Arizona Monday and headed to Flagstaff Tuesday, which is a little more than two hours north of Phoenix via Interstate 17.
Our Maria Hechanova went up there to find out what she can and briefly connected with Gorospe’s family.
Her father echoed his son’s Facebook post, urging Hechanova and other reporters to spread the word and share his daughter’s photo.
“Just keep putting her out there,” he said. “The more you put her out there, the more it helps.”
Gorospe’s family is desperate to find her. To say they are worried is an “understatement,” her father said.
According to the Arrowhead Elementary School website, Gorospe has been a teacher for going on 20 years. According to a Facebook post, Gorospe was at Norterra Canyon School in Phoenix before moving to Arrowhead in Glendale. Both schools are part of the Deer Valley Unified School District.
District spokeswoman Monica Allread confirmed that Gorospe has been with DVUSD since 2006.
“We are very worried about our missing kindergarten teacher from Arrowhead Elementary School,” Allread wrote in an email to Hechanova. “Police and her family are looking for her, but unfortunately, that is all we know right now.”
She also said counselors are helping teachers talk to the students about what is happening.
“Due to the large amount of coverage in the media and on social media, many of our students had heard about this situation when they returned to school today after a day off on Monday,” she continued. “District crisis counselors provided age-appropriate information for teachers to share with their students. Teachers shared the brief information and reassured students that they are safe at school.”
Arrowhead’s principal sent a letter home to parents.
[RESOURCE: Talking to parents about scary news]
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